Synthesis - the Creation of Yellowjacket
By Tom Beck

What do a windmill, a boat design contest, and some leftover plywood have in common?

Add to that formula someone whoís been bitten by the boat-building bug, and you have...you guessed it - A PROJECT!

My wife had been wanting a windmill for our yard for some time, and I decided to build her one for Christmas. Concurrent with this was my designing of my entry in the 2001 Duckworks Design Contest, the Cherokee Rose. Now, I have no pretensions - Iím a tenderfoot when it comes to boat design. I do, however, like a challenge, and the contest offered that, along with, I hoped, some constructive criticism to help me along my way. The leftover 1/4 luan plywood from the windmill offered a perfect excuse - er, opportunity to experiment with some of the ideas I had for the boat.

I really wasnít ready to build Cherokee Rose, and I may never be, at least as drawn for the contest. But how about a small kidís boat - one with similar design that would be easy enough to build by Christmas, would be extremely stable and safe, and would provide some relief for my 13í 6í pirogue which the whole family just canít get into safely.

It wasnít finished by Christmas, but it did look enough like a boat to surprise everyone when they saw it sitting in the corner that morning. The building process continued in the months following. When it came time for painting, I decided on a color that would be easy to spot from a distance, and now I had a name for the boat - Yellowjacket!

It was finally time for her maiden voyage this summer. My wife, Dinah, and my children, Rachel and Jonathan, and I headed down to Lake Juliette, just north of Macon, Georgia, for the event. My daughter insisted on taking the boat out first, and I acquiesced. It performed beautifully! In fact, unless I really paddled hard, she didnít have any problem keeping up with me in the pirogue. When the inevitable, ďDaddy, Iím tired,Ē came, I threw a line (brought along for just such an occasion) to Yellowjacket (now containing both kids) and back to the dock we went. It was a fun day.

Click pictures below to enlarge

But there was one problem. Factor in two growing kids, and the combination of one in Yellowjacket and the rest of us in the pirogue just didnít work - even with PFDís on, I didnít like sitting that low in the water, especially with no built-in flotation like Yellowjacket has.

Hmmm. Two adults, two growing kids, and two boats that are two small. Do I feel some more synthesis coming?

By the way, hereís the windmill.